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First post, a few questions

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#1 kd4pbs

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:28 PM

Good evening!
I'm new to the forum but have been playing with astrophotography and telescopes for a few years since I bought my old ETX-90 back in 2001 or so. I made a few good ETX photos using my 20D back in the day, and recently got an LX200GPS for a good price. I decided to modify my old 20D instead of sell it... glad I did - can make some decent pictures on the old camera without the IR filter.
So, from my experience with the ETX, I knew I had to get a polar mount, which I did. That just showed me more faults with the drive, and I'm considering buying some Buck's gears to get rid of the plastic junk.
Here's my question:
I bought the DEC drive upgrade that Peterson sells, but I feel used since I paid basically $20-some for a 2bbl Rochester carburetor air filter gasket and a small tube of synthetic grease. Is the Buck's gears update this ridiculously overpriced or should I expect to see at least a small "pop" for my Buck's gears instead of a fizzle like with the DEC clutch kit?
Thanks a bunch, and thank you very much for this forum! I've enjoyed reading it for quite some time, and it's good to have something at least halfway worth contributing! ;)
Incidentally, would anyone be interested on my take with the Meade HD-60 eyepieces? I have mixed feelings with them too... but I am by far no "expert" on amateur astronomy.
-Matt

#2 Spacetravelerx

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 11:37 PM

I am curious to hear more about your experience with the DEC drive upgrade as time goes on. But I can't speak to it on my end - too nervous to open up the scope!

I am out with my ETX-125, "Mini-Me", right now just enjoying the bright objects. Heck the Moon right now is pretty bright.

I did get myself the Meade HD-60 eyepiece set. To be honest I am very satisfied with them. I like the image I see and the wider field of view compared to my basic eyepiece. I am not an eyepiece "expert", however the view is quite good in my book. BUT...I now have one Meade UWA (24mm). This eyepiece is quite amazing - the wider field (82 deg) just blankets your eye. The views are stunning. One draw back - it is a 2" eyepiece so you won't be using it on the ETX.

#3 Starman27

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

Welcome to CN. You should be able to get good information. Also, the experiences of our member is important regardless of their level of expertise.

#4 neotesla

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:16 PM

I thought the clutch kit was good value, it worked and had detailed instrucitons on how to do it, and to fix any gear alignment issues.

Bucks gears may appear to be expensive, but if you look at the cost of making precision gears, you would be surprised at what it costs, especially as it is made out of stainless steel.

#5 Mike7Mak

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

I honestly never understood the dec clutch 'problem'. Mine has always locked just fine with a 'two finger' snug. I really think it's a misperception that the dec knob needs to be cranked down to lock the dec axis. But I've only got one example so who knows.

The same goes for the Bucks gear kit. I bought one (mostly just to have it in case they stopped making it) and it's still in the package it came in. There's nothing wrong with the 'plastic' gears unless/until they are damaged. I'm convinced that the improvement most people report is mainly due to the drive 'tune up' procedures performed during the gear replacement. I have no empirical evidence to back that up.

I will say the gear kit doesn't leave the impression you coulda bought the same thing at an auto parts store for 50 cents. The gears look nice and the instructions for tuning the drive are worth at least half the cost of the kit.

I'm also thinking about buying the focuser upgrade kit, which I will install. But there again I've read comments from guys who know the part numbers say the kit is 'overpriced'. I don't mind paying for the convenience of a packaged kit.

#6 kd4pbs

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:29 PM

Thanks, all! Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that the declination clutch (sorry - I called it a DEC drive upgrade... I was tired last night :) ) upgrade didn't do what it's advertised as doing, but I'm just saying that for what one gets with the kit, one can buy 20 of the cork gaskets that the kit consists of. So, as far as value, I'd say that a $8.00 price point would be far more reasonable.
My drive would not lock down firm with even a whole-fisted crank on the lock knob, so this was my concern. As it turns out, I think it was more a case of the dec drive pressure plate not being tightened enough on the dec shaft than any slipping due to not having a higher friction element in the clutch.
Thanks for the input, Mike. I do think that my RA gears are messed up; there were a couple teeth that looked like they had burrs on it when I inspected the RA drive after I installed the new clutch. They also every now and then make a loud click as the scope is slewed. I do know it's not easy to hob a good gear, so as long as the kit is pretty high quality, I may as well go for it.
Mainly, I'm just really wanting to start with as good a drive as possible for some decent photos. I know I'll not get GEM quality, but compared to the old ETX 90, this is a world of difference!
Hopefully the weather will clear tonight... there's going to be an 80° pass on the ISS in the Raleigh area, and I'd love to try to image it!
Starman; I guarantee I'm too much of a moron to contribute much useful information, but I try ;)
-Matt

#7 kd4pbs

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 12:32 PM

Got the gears installed, and I'm glad I did. The RA is much quieter, but mostly because some knucklehead who had his fingers into this telescope before had tightened the bearing preload so tight one could barely turn the worm gear by hand. I'm pretty sure the bearings are messed up, but not so much that I need to worry about it immediately. I loosened the preload and the whole RA drive is MUCH smoother now. The DEC drive is also much quieter. All in all, I'm happy I went this route. Got a very nice "first light" picture with the new setup too; using PHD and an older NTSC color security camera. I have a B&W ultra-sensitive security camera to use for the guider on the way.
Part of The Great Orion Nebula. Iota Orionis sure is bright!
1068 second exposure, ISO100, prime focus, LX200 8", Canon 20d w/o IR filter. Tracks pretty good now, and this is with no PEC in the scope. PHD sure does make things easy ;)
I just hate I didn't see the dust speck on the imager. Grrr!
I think next time I'll use my f6.5 reducer too.
Posted Image

#8 nitegeezer

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 03:27 PM

That is a great shot!! :bow:

I think your setup is now a keeper, and welcome to CN.

Did you stack this photo or is it a single exposure as it is implied? If it is not stacked, how did you decide on a 1068 second exposure rather than a round number like 1000, 1100, or 17 or 18 minutes? I play with astrophotography and I am just curious how you picked 1068, it just seems like a strange number and I am wondering what I am missing!!

#9 kd4pbs

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 02:34 PM

Yes - it's a single exposure.
1068 seconds was found to be optimal due to it being the amount of time between opening my beer and drinking the last drop ;)
Part of my leeway is that I shoot these shots using the camera's RAW mode. It's a wonderful method of being able to correct for a wide range of less-than-optimal exposures. I couldn't even see the streak from the satellite / plane / UFO that runs through the image until I tweaked the exposure some, but the 32 bit data gives us a wide range of correction before getting the banding like one gets if shooting JPEGs.
In retrospect, I should have shot this around ISO400; the image didn't have much noise in it at all.
I'll work on stacking images and figure out some stacking software next. I have the intervalometer for the camera, so it's just a matter of doing some tests.
I figured I could get away with the long duration mainly because PHD was doing such a wonderful job.
I'll be donating to that software author for sure!

Thanks for the kudos :)

#10 nitegeezer

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 04:27 PM

Yes - it's a single exposure.
1068 seconds was found to be optimal due to it being the amount of time between opening my beer and drinking the last drop ;)


Now that is a unit of measure that I can understand. :roflmao:

Your post really caught my eye as the photo was fantastic and that is the same scope I have. I am still experimenting but have learned a lot along the way and hope to get some good shots this summer. The ice on the ground is leaving early this year so I should be getting out soon. I do some outreach programs with both schools and scouts, would you allow me to use your photo as an example of what my scope could do if given a better operator?

#11 kd4pbs

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 04:34 PM

Oh, certainly - I'd be honored!
It still needs work (the dust speck is kinda funny) but yes, feel free.
It's quite a bit better than some of my first ones using film in my old EOS10s on the back of the ETX90. :)

#12 nitegeezer

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 07:50 PM

I remember trying film years ago, I never did get anything I liked. Not having the immediate feedback of today's digital cameras could make for a rather frustrating experience. At that time I had to travel to a dark site and it seemed something would always go wrong but I would not know until I looked at the negatives a couple days later!!! Now living at a dark site with a digital camera I expect things will work better.






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